"We have to be braver than we think we can be,
because God is constantly calling us to be more than we are,
to see through plastic sham to living, breathing reality,
and to break down our defenses of self-protection
in order to be free to receive and give love."
~ Madeleine L' Engle
For her thirtieth birthday last year, one of my close friends wanted us to jump from a floating hot tub out on one of the lakes cradled here in Seattle, after dark - in November. I looked at her, two parts incredulous, one part awe, remembering days when I didn't require serious coaxing for such a venture. Days when I'd have been the one leading the pack. I shivered and tried unsuccessfully to hide my reluctance, "Really? Are you sure about that?" She flashed a smile of pure mischief and shrugged, "Why not? It'll be fun!" I didn't tell her that I could make a list in that moment of a hundred things that sounded more fun than a lake in November, but it wasn't my birthday.
So that's how I found myself jumping one dark November night into the still waters of Lake Union, with two girlfriends beside me. My body broke the water, sent waves spewing high, nearly froze the breath right in my lungs, and I surfaced yelping, grasping the back of the boat like a drenched cat. I couldn't scramble out of the water fast enough.
And then, I did the unthinkable. After several minutes of unthawing in the hot tub, I did it again. And then a third time. I wore a crazy grin at this point, felt the chilly water melting inhibition and self-doubt, releasing courage. My whole body quivered invigoration.
Tomorrow, I dive into thirty-two. And this year, I dive into writing a book - at least a beginning; I dive into joy, though the waters stare back at me darkened and the temperature startles; and I dive into deeper life in Christ; and I dive further into this "living breathing reality" of loving in marriage, without self-protection. And I wonder, amidst my doubts and fears and voices screaming "Don't do it!" if all this I dive into might actually startle my soul more awake.